A small-town tourist couple, George and Millie, are sightseeing on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Millie is trying to pick out stars' homes, thinking at first she's spotted "Greg" Peck's house, but then deciding that the roof line was wrong. George wants to stop and get a map to the stars' homes at one of the dozens of stands all over town. Millie pouts and says she ways only trying to save money; George thinks they can blow a whole dollar on a map and Millie calls him the Last of the Big Spenders. They notice a stand ahead - Rosie Sunset's Maps; an old lady is seated in a canopied golf cart, wearing a shawl and huge floppy hat, apparently asleep. George calls out to Rosie that he wants one of the maps she's holding, but gets no response. Millie doesn't want to disturb the old lady, but George gets out of the car, lays down money on the cart and goes to take a map from the stack in Rosie's hand. Rosie falls out of the cart onto the grass, knocking over all the maps. George rushes around and bends over her body, which is now surrounded by maps, and gasps.
We see an abandoned chess game, then Burke and a brunette necking on the couch. She says that this is no way to get Burke's taxes done; Burke asks if there's a shorter form. She says how would it look for the Captain to be in the pokey for "boobing up" his taxes. Burke replies "Dey'll nevah get me, Louie" and continues to kiss her. He asks if he can count on her to send him a cake with a file in it, and she replies that he's easily satisfied. They kiss.
NO ONE SHOULD EVER DO HIS OWN INCOME TAX - BURKE'S LAW
The brunette adds, and with all your money, too. The phone rings and Burke says, and with my luck, too. As he prepares to leave for the crime scene, his accountant tells him she'll be right there because it's a mess; she may have to see a lot of him. Burke says he hopes he won't be overtaxed.
Burke arrives and Les tells him it's Rosie Sunset; Burke says he thinks Les is being optimistic. Les tells him that Rosie Sunset (not her real name) had been in that spot for years, always in her trademark floppy hat, a legend and a bit of a mystery. Burke realizes that he's passed her cart hundreds of times; he recollects a seventyish woman in a floppy hat. Lots of rumors had floated about her real story, including that she was an old-time movie star and had millions hidden away,but few facts. No one really knew where she lived, she was just Rosie Sunset. A gash was discovered in her head, but McLeod hasn't determined yet whether it was the cause of death or happened when she fell. McLeod actually thinks she was poisoned, but not all the signs of poisoning are right, so it may be some obscure poison; official cause of death remains unknown. Found with the body are her lunch box, purse, $8 in singles and some change, a small notebook where Rosie listed the license plate numbers of all her customers, and a scrap of paper with the word "Waldo" and a phone number written on it.
A promenade resembling a fashion show is taking place, with the models all wearing huge floral arrangements as headdresses, connected to their wrists with long satin ribbons. The man in charge, dressed in formal wear, screams "No, Colette, please wa-alk, don't slith-ah!" and proceeds to show Colette how to move properly. She tries again; he sighs and says he supposes it will have to do. He approaches Burke and lights his cigarette for him, them tucks the spent match sideways behind the others in the matchbook. He retrieves a crystal ashtray for Burke as he continues to berate Colette for slithering. He sighs to Burke "heaven help the business" and is surprised to hear that Burke is so out of touch never to have heard of the "House of Waldo" (he says "surely you jest"). Waldo Fleishacker, head of the House of Waldo, then tells Burke to feel one of the floral arrangements, which are all plastic. Burke says they fooled him, they looked so real. Waldo says that's exactly what he told everyone when he started the business 3 years ago. Everyone said what's so special about plastic flowers and called him mad; now the better restaurants, banks and public buildings all flock to him to rent his arrangements. "What nature does well, Waldo does better - artificially" is his slogan. Waldo is disappointed to find that Burke is not there as a customer. Burke mentions Rosie's name; Waldo looks startled momentarily, then says it hardly sounds like someone he'd know. When Burke tells him Rosie has been murdered, however, he swoons onto a nearby chaise, gesturing to the smelling salts in an ornate cabinet. He asks if Burke can be discreet, then tells him that Rosie was his step-mother. His father died six years ago. Waldo saw Rosie once a year; he assures Burke that they liked each other well enough, but had so little in common. Waldo begged her for years to let him put her in a proper apartment and take her out of the dreadful place she lived in, but Rosie was stubborn and independent. He tells Burke he had just seen Rosie this morning; they had the same old conversation, with the same result. Waldo says Burke probably imagines that he was ashamed of her, with her maps and all. Actually it was the other way around; Rosie hated Waldo's business. He tells Burke to guess what Rosie called him; Burke guesses correctly right away - "My son, the artificial florist".
Burke tells Les to check out Waldo; Les informs him that McLeod is going crazy trying to figure out what poison was used on Rosie. Burke tells Les to meet him at 17th and Aberdeen, Rosie's address, because "if there's another one around" like Waldo, Burke doesn't think he can stand it alone. Les comments that Burke has a talent for finding the wild ones.
IF YOU DON'T GOT IT, YOU WON'T GET IT - BURKE'S LAW
At a seedy building, alongside a locksmith's shop and Cosmo Printing, Burke enters. Tim and Les meet him in a dingy hall on an upper floor. Rosie's door apartment has been "protected" by four padlocks, all of which have been pried loose. They enter guardedly, but no one seems to be there. The vacant room is filled a lot of clutter and several wind chimes, but nothing that seems worth stealing. In the middle of the room, however, is a huge welded monstrosity of an abstract "thing" comprised of car parts, license plates, radiators, etc. Burke says that whatever it is, you can be sure it's the only one. Burke tells Tim and Les to contact the lab; just then, a man in a welder's mask runs into the room, menacing them with with a blowtorch, saying (in a heavy Slavic accent) no one move or he'll blast them. He yells into the hall to "Vanya" to call the "polizei" and to tell them that he's caught the burglars white-handed. Burke asks if he doesn't mean redhanded; the man says pfooey, he spits on red. Burke shows him his badge; the man lifts the front of his welder's mask, revealing very thick spectacles, and peers at the ID. He then calls out to Vanya to "never mind". Greeting the "commissar", he tells them he is the artist, Leonid Borodny, who lives in the apartment next door. He heard them and thought they were burglars; he apologizes profusely. The welding mask keeps snapping down as he talks. Suddenly, Leonid notices the sculpture and says it's impossible; this is his creation, "Song of the Freeway" and he can't figure out how it got into Rosie's apartment. The mask snaps down again. He says he can prove the sculpture is his, he has lots of similar pieces in his apartment. He calls Rosie such nice lady who didn't have enemy in world. Burke sends Les to call the lab, leaves Tim to guard the room, and accompanies Leonid. Showing Burke around his apartment, Leonid introduces him to his "little sister" Vanya, a stunning brunette in a skintight black outfit, who enters with vodka and glasses. Leonid tells Burke Vanya she have trouble with English; only know two words - "'allo" and "yesssht". Vanya looks at Burke and purrs a definite "yesssht". Leonid says Rosie was mystery lady; everybody love her but nobody really know her. She never let anyone into her room; he has lived there for 10 years and today was the first time he'd ever been in Rosie's rooms. He proceeds to down a huge glass of vodka; he toasts to Rosie and smashes the glass. Vanya sneaks up behind Burke and grabs him, saying "'allo". Leonid proudly shows off his other work: "Rust at Midnight", "View From the Tunnel", "Life of a Mole". He says they are all beautiful, but none is in a class with "Song of the Freeway", the only piece he ever sold. Leonid's vodka breath is beginning to curl Burke's hair. He tells them 3 years before he was ready to give up and take a --- job. Then a man walk in, never saw him before or since, doesn't give name, buys "Song of the Freeway" and doesn't even argue price. He give Leonid $500 in cash; but how it get in Rosie's room, Leonid asks again. Leonid starts to ask Vanya to bring more vodka, but sees her staring at Burke and going "yesssht", so he decides to get it himself. Burke tries to escape Vanya's clutches, but gets backed into one of the sculptures. Vanya kisses him passionately.
Tim, meanwhile, is still in Rosie's room. Behind a book on a mantel, he finds a small souvenir and picks it up with his handkerchief and pockets it. Suddenly, someone clubs him over the head from behind and runs out of the run. Tim staggers after his assailant, gun drawn, into the hallway but loses whoever it is. He tries doors and opens the on to Leonid's apartment just in time to "save" Burke from Vanya, who is going "'allo", "'allo". Burke thanks his savior and flees the apartment.
At Burke's home, Les can't understand why someone would want to "scrag" a nice old lady; Burke chides him for his "callousness". Tim theorizes that Rosie bought the sculpture from whoever got it from Leonid; Burke, however, still doesn't believe the rumors that she had money squirreled away. Someone else may have believed it, though, and broke into her room to look for the loot. The souvenir Tim picked up comes from a German restaurant called Der Stein Und Schnitzel. Les has traced the license plates for Rosie's last day; six of the 7 turn out to for out-of-state tourists. The seventh is registered to Miss Cleo Delaney, who resides on Sunset just 100 feet from where Rosie died. Burke says Cleo comes from a fine family, with lots and lots of real estate. They ponder why Cleo would want one of Rosie's maps.
When Burke arrives, flamenco music is playing on the terrace. Burke watches as Cleo dances then compliments her on her flamenco technique. As she knocks back a shot of tequila, Cleo admits she's not bad for an amateur.
EVERYONE BEGINS AS AN AMATEUR - BURKE'S LAW
Cleo asks if he's an aficionado and continues to practice what she calls her "flameco phase". She tells Burke that two years ago, her passion was folk singing. Cleo asks what she's done wrong; she says she assumes she did something wrong. Burke says she was sloughing her triplets, and gives her a few flamenco pointers. She hands him a copy of the paper with huge headlines which read "Rosie Sunset Murdered" and asks if that's his problem. She says that Rosie told her all about copying down license plate numbers, so she's been expecting Burke to show up. Cleo tells Burke that Rosie was there forever; they used to wave to each other when she drove by. Whenever she had the time, Cleo would stop and chat, but she didn't know her well. She saw Rosie that last morning; Rosie had made no sales, so Cleo bought a map because she felt sorry for the old lady. She stopped by again later in the day; the sun was hot and Rosie wasn't looking well. Cleo made her come home with her and made her a cup of coffee. Rosie stayed for about forty minutes, then was feeling better, so Cleo took her back to her cart. Cleo says Rosie never mentioned any personal problems and didn't seem afraid, just very tired. Burke asks Cleo what the two women talked about. She says she would have thought a man who looks like Burke would know women better than that: when ladies talk girl talk, who listen?
At Der Stein Und Schnitzel, the maitre d' directs a bearded accordionist, dressed in lederhosen and wearing a Tyrolean hat, over to where Tim and Les are sitting. In a heavy fake German accent, he says his name is Maximilian and asks if they have a request. Les tells him to sit down; Maximilian sees Les' badge and says, oh, the fuzz, dropping the accent. Actually, he talks like a beatnik, man, and tells them his real name is Charlie Braun. "Maximilian" is a name that just grew on him, like his beard and outfit; all that just because he learned to play the accordion. They say the headwaiter told them Rosie used to drop into the restaurant often and was a fan of Maximilian. Maximilian agrees that she was in just yesterday; she had a nip and he played some oldies for her. He says Rosie didn't look good and he told her so. He'd never hurt her; she was his good luck charm. He tells Tim and Les that he was in the hospital with double pneumonia about a year ago. He had a relapse worrying about his medical bills and almost died. Then, when he was finally released, he was shocked to discover that every single one of his hospital bills had been mysteriously paid in cash, mailed in to the hospital with no name. He thought it might have been Rosie; when he visited her home, he found that she, too, had been sent to the hospital with a virus. He went to visit her and ask if she had paid the bills. Rosie started laughing and said she'd have to sell a lot of maps to pay those bills. Maximilian says he never set foot inside Rosie's rooms, and the only friend of hers he ever met was that day at the hospital, when she had another visitor in the hospital. Just then, the maitre d' calls Maximilian back to play.
Tim and Les later report to Burke that they have tracked down Rosie's hospital visitor, one Arthur J. Poindexter, who runs Cosmo Printing downstairs from Rosie's rooms. At the print shop, Poindexter, a mousy little man with a moustache, enthuses on his life's work. He shows Burke around, claiming that there is not a bigger selection of type in the city, as his assistant Harry slaves in the background. Burke can't get a word in edgewise as Poindexter goes on and on about the wonderful world of printing, yelling periodically to hapless Harry. He complains that, with all of "this", he can't get a dime of the city's printing business. Burke tries to explain that he has nothing to do with that, but Poindexter charges on, saying he already submitted his bids to the appropriate office. Harry, meanwhile, is frantically keeping three different presses going. A city inspector had shown up, Poindexter continues, and told him that he couldn't handle the volume of work the city needed because he doesn't have enough help. Burke says he thinks Harry would agree. Poindexter gets huffy and says he thinks Burke is one of "them", the moderns, who have no pride in the job anymore, but who just want to know when they can leave work and what they're going to be paid. Burke finally insists that they talk about Rosie. Poindexter calls her a Joan of Arc in sneakers, Madame Curie with a map in her hand. He says she was a friend to all. He takes out a flask of rotgut whiskey, hidden inside one of the presses; after a healthy swig, he offers it to Burke, who declines. Poindexter says Rosie used to stop by for coffee on her way to work; it's impossible for anyone to have had a grudge against her. Poindexter says Leonid is a nice man and a great artist; Maximilian is also a very nice man who he met at the hospital. Burke notes that Poindexter likes everyone; Poindexter says everyone but that city inspector. Off he goes on another tirade, saying he's had to resort to printing circulars, flyers and catalogues. He browbeats Harry, yelling at him to work faster. Burke wants to know why the rush; Poindexter shows him a flyer for a fire sale and asks if he's ever seen better work. Burke repeats - why the rush?; Poindexter says he understands that the fire is set for that night.
At the station, McLeod says he has a story to tell Burke. It seems some people can't tolerate the new "miracle drugs"; the minutest amount would be just as lethal to them as poison. Rosie was just such a person and she injested 500 mg. of a drug called Celaphrene, obtainable anywhere. It could have been administered in coffee or whiskey; both were found in her system. Rosie should have been wearing a Medic Alert tag, but none was found; Les checked the hospital and was told one had been issued to her. McLeod tells Burke that it's ironic, considering how many lives Celaphrene has saved.
At Burke's home, he, Les and Tim are mulling over the case. Les makes a toast to "Lady Bountiful"; Tim comments that Rosie helped several people. Burke says that if Tim still holds onto the theory that she had lots of money hidden somewhere, he should ask who kills the golden goose? Tim is disappointed that Burke still doesn't buy Rosie was loaded.
MINE IS NOT TO BUY OR SELL, MINE IS BUT TO RUN IT DOWN - BURKE'S LAW
Tim offers to run a bank check; Burke suggests that he also check with the inheritance tax people, because Rosie sure didn't make much money selling maps.
The next day at the station, the bank reports have come in, showing Rosie had no savings or checking account. Burke says the only thing that's sure in the case is that the killer had to know about Rosie's medical condition. The information could have been on her medical chart when she was in the hospital; either Max or Poindexter could have found out when they visited her. Les calls Mr. Lobbermacher, the headwaiter at Der Stein Und Schnitzel, and asks to speak to Maximilian. It seems the accordionist hasn't shown up for work since Tim and Les were there; he called in sick, but has moved out of his apartment, telling the landlord he just got an important job. Burke doesn't want to put out an APB; instead, he suggests they put out the word at the musician's union that Maximilian has been replaced.
At the restaurant, the new accordionistis Burke in disguise, singing "Ach du Lieber, Augustine". Actually, the "accordion" music is coming from a record player Les is manning nearby. Maximilian appears behind a drapery and watches. The record sticks and Burke fakes until Les can fix it. Meanwhile, Tim catches Maximilian as the song ends. Mr. Lobbermacher rushes up to congratulate Burke on his talent. He says the audience wants an encore; Burke gives him the accordion and tells him to go ahead.
In his dressing room, Maximilian denies he murdered Rosie and swears he just got tired of the job. He admits that he was curious and tried to check out who paid his hospital bill. It always comes to the same answer; he still figures it had to be Rosie. Burke and Les both suggest that maybe he figured Rosie had even more money and that he'd get it. Maximilian agrees and says greed is bad; all he could think of was getting the loot. A couple of months ago, at the end of the day, he followed Rosie. He saw a woman in a big car pick Rosie up and drive her to Elm Heights Cemetery. Rosie walked over to a grave, stood and talked for a while, then laid a single rose on the grave and departed. The caretaker told Maximilian that Rosie hadn't missed a day in six years and the grave belonged to her husband, Martin Fleishacker. Maximilian felt like a ghoul, he says, and backed off. He figured if Burke talked to the caretaker, he'd be fingered, so he ran. He describes the woman who picked up Rosie and even found out where she lived; it's Cleo.
Les reports that Rosie's husband died six years ago of natural causes. He was an expert engraver, one of the best. He was picked up several times by the Treasury Department on suspicion of counterfeiting, but was always released for lack of evidence.
Burke finds Cleo still dancing. She admits driving Rosie to the Elm Heights Cemetary, because Rosie had asked her to. Cleo asks Burke if she shouldn't have. Burke says she didn't mention it before; Cleo replies that he never asked. She then asks Burke if they're having their first quarrel. He lights her cigarette and finds a spent match tucked sideways behind the others in the matchbook. He demands to know when Waldo was there and why. Cleo asks what Burke knows about money; he says rich or poor, it's nice to have. Cleo tells him not if you can't handle it. She finally admits she's actually mortgaged and broke. She says that a Delaney without money sense is shocking. She used to hire Waldo to do the decor for her garden parties, like any other tradesman. Then, when she needed money and had no collateral, she borrowed a few thousand from him, after he had become a huge success. Instead of collateral, he asked her to ingratiate herself with Rosie and find out all she could. She asks Burke to believe that that was all.
Waldo is moaning and carrying on about how awful the help is; an arrangement that should have been gladioli and lemon leaves has ferns instead. Burke threatens to jail him if he doesn't start telling him some needed information. He tells Burke the business is the cause of all his problems. He spent so much money from the firm that, a year ago, he realized he was seriously overextended. He mentioned it to Rosie; a few days later $5000, all in $10 bills, arrived in a plain parcel with no name. He was nervous because he knew his father had been a "genius" at conterfeiting; he had never had a bill questioned in his life. He realized that Martin had left Rosie a perfect $10 plate. Rosie always liked to help needly people. Burke accuses Waldo of hiring Cleo so he could get the plate. Waldo admits he wanted it badly, but swears it was in order to destroy it. Waldo says oh, the shame of having a counterfeiting stepmother. Burke calls Sgt. Ames and tells her to have Tim and Les meet him up in Rosie's room. She asks if that isn't an old play.
Back in Rosie's apartment, Burke looks around, then examines the sculpture for clues. He catches Leonid trying to sneak out of the room; Leonid, wearing a Brahms sweatshirt, swears he thought Burke was a burglar again. Then he claims he got the idea that whoever bought "Song of the Freeway" would want to buy another, and Rosie would have known who it was. He says he hadn't been able to get in before today, then decided to search for anything that would tell him the name of the man who bought his sculpture, but had no luck. Burke frisks him and finds a Medic Alert tag in his pocket. Leonid says he has no idea who it belongs to; he collects pieces of metal for his works. In back of the building, he always goes searches through the trash barrels; there is one for each person and shop in the building. Leonid tells Burke of course he know which barrel it come from; he's not dummy.
In Cosmo Printing, Poindexter is pushing Harry around as usual. Burke tells Harry to relax, then confronts Poindexter with the story of a man who passes counterfeiting knowledge on to his wife before he dies. Poindexter tells Burke he's busy and starts to move away. Burke shows him the Medic Alert tag and says Poindexter got greedy, or Rosie would still be alive. Poindexter runs to a drawer and pulls out a gun; Burke corners him and wrests the gun from his hand, while Harry stops work and watches stupefied. Poindexter tells Burke the nerve of Rosie; she had been using his presses at night. He came back one night and accidentally printing; she was very professional, he says. Who knows how long she had been doing it, she was so tidy, always picking up the scraps of her special paper and cleaning up all traces of ink. Poindexter goes into raptures at the beauty of the counterfeit plate. Burke accuses Poindexter of finding out about Rosie's condition, then dropping the Celaphrene in her coffee one morning when she stopped by. He must have taken the Medic Alert tag out of her purse, just to be safe; then he considered himself home free. Burke says Poindexter was the person in Rosie's room that first night who attacked Tim, searching for the elusive $10 plate. Harry, entranced, begins to eat his lunch. No one has been able to find the plate yet. Burke suddenly looks at Harry's lunch box and makes a call. Tim and Les enter as Burke tells the police custodian to pry off the bottom of Rosie's lunch box. There, in a special compartment, sits the $10 plate. It had been in police custody the whole time. They book Poindexter. Burke tells Harry that he's a hero and to go ahead and take the night off.
Burke is back with Matilda, his tax accountant. She's finished his returns and Burke asks how much she saved him. She winces and says, actually, he owes $6,000 more, but the returns are very neat and he won't go to jail. She kisses Burke to stop his protests. Burke tells her, as daddy always said,
DON'T WASTE TIME; IF THE DEAL SOUNDS GOOD TO YOU, GRAB IT - BURKE'S LAW
Matilda says "grab!" and does.